Independent Reading Develops Fluency
Independent reading is a critical daily component of a balanced reading program in any classroom. Some significant amount of time every day in every classroom should be devoted to children choosing for themselves something to read and then settling down to read it. Independent reading is often promoted in terms of the motivation and interest children develop as they have time to pursue their own personal interests through books. In addition, the amount of reading children do is the biggest variable in their word fluency, and children who engage in regular self-selected reading read a lot more than children who don't.
All a teacher of young children has to do to have a successful self-selected reading program is to provide a good reading model through daily teacher–read aloud, schedule time each day for children to read books they choose, and provide a wide variety of books on all different levels and of many various types. For older children—particularly children who are not fluent readers—it is not so easy. These nonfluent older readers don't think of themselves as good readers and don't want to read the easy books they deem "baby books!"
Linda Fielding and Cathy Roller attack this "baby book attitude" head on in a 1992 Reading Teacher article, "Making Difficult Books Accessible and Easy Books Acceptable." Among the ideas for making difficult books accessible are:
- Provide independent reading time when children can self-select books (including nonfiction) and interact with others about what they learn from these books.
- If books are too difficult for most children to read, read these aloud to them.
- Partner the children, putting a more able reader with a less able reader.
- Provide lots of rereading opportunities because difficult material becomes easier each time it is read.
- Precede difficult books on a topic with easier books on that topic to build background knowledge.
All these suggestions will help children read with more fluency even when the material they are reading is more difficult than it should optimally be.
© ______ 2009, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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